Spousal support or “alimony” is an amount of money that one spouse pays to the other spouse for his or her reasonable needs. The court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: open durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony.
The determination of the amount of spousal support can become a complex and contested issue primarily because there is no set equation to calculate spousal support. Rather, it is necessary to analyze the following 14 factors established under New Jersey law:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills and employability of the parties;
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
- The parental responsibilities for the children;
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities
- The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
- The nature, amount and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Types of Alimony:
- Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help the supported spouse become self-supporting and is limited in duration
- Reimbursement alimony compensates a spouse who supported the other spouse through advanced education
- Open-durational alimony has replaced permanent alimony and applies to long term marriages lasting longer than 20 years
- Limited-durational alimony applies to marriages that are not long term and assists the less-monied spouse in maintaining their standard of living
Parties can agree on payment of alimony and an amount, or the parties can take the matter to court where a judge will decide the issue. Alimony is taxable to the receiving party and tax deductible to the payor. When determining the amount and duration of alimony, a judge will examine several factors:
- the requesting spouse’s needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay
- duration of the marriage
- each spouse’s age and health
- each spouse’s income, earning capacity, education level, and
- marital standard of living
- parental responsibilities
- the time and expense necessary to obtain education or training, and
- each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage
There are no specific alimony calculators in New Jersey. Once alimony is awarded, a judge may modify alimony orders in the future if there is a change in circumstances. For example, if the supported spouse was not able to become self-supporting as early as expected, the court can extend the duration. If the recipient spouse remarries or enters into a civil union, alimony payments by statute are terminated. The death of either spouse will terminate alimony, however your Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) should include a provision for maintenance of life insurance to secure the obligor’s alimony obligation. If you require assistance with alimony, contact an experienced family law attorney.
Contact Cohn Lifland
The Cohn Lifland family law group has extensive experience in determining the likelihood of spousal support and how long it may last. Please come see us so that we can address your specific circumstances and help guide you through the legal process.
Backed by over 90 years of institutional knowledge, experience and professionalism, our spousal support attorneys know the law — and they can help. Contact us online or call 201-845-9600 today to find out how. From our office in Saddle Brook, our lawyers help clients throughout northern New Jersey.